Nuala O'Sullivan

Visual artist, Nuala O'Sullivan is a graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design with a B.A. in Fine Art (Painting) and is based in Contact Studios, Limerick. ‘Through the medium of photography and painting I have explored the role and status of women in society in the 1950s. The aesthetic and culture of that period have strong visual resonances for me. Found or family photographs from an archive of photographs built up over many years are the source material for many of my paintings.’

Hunt Museum



Oil on canvas
24 X 18 cm

The artwork Choker references pearls in the Hunt Museum collection (T057-T060). Pearls have symbolically represented purity, wisdom and wealth. Greek legend said they were tears of the gods and Hindu folklore saw pearls as dewdrops. To keep their lustre they must be worn regularly, as the oils from the skin feed them. This makes them quite intimate objects, passed down through gener-ations of families.  

However, I see pearls more as symbols of wealth and conservatism. The pearls in this work act as decoration but more threateningly, represent a noose of respectability sti?ing the woman. The painting is part of the ongoing conversation regarding the status of women in the family and in society.

Limerick Museum



Oil on canvas
18 x 24 cm

Limerick Museum has a wonderful eclectic collection of silver. In choosing an object suggesting family, I was attracted to the cutlery (e.g. Limerick silver ladle LM 1984.0074). It has shared food and touched lips through generations. It is formal, valuable and yet ordinary: the inherited family silver or the handiest implement to stir the gravy.

Meeting and sharing food and conversation is part of the gel of society. As families we catch up around the kitchen table at dinner and silver’s surface re?ects our lives back on us. In this work the silver on a check background re?ects this union of formality and homeliness.